This post is the next in my occasional series introduced in this post titled; IT In Marketing.

The short summary – this series documents a pretty typical smaller business that does not have a marketing staff, and the relatively simple changes that can be made that will improve the website part of your marketing efforts. For the last episode, click here.

Onwards

I had a great conversation with Glenn Schmelzle, unlike myself, he is a professional in marketing. Glenn blogs about marketing and technology on his Marketing Whats New blog.

First, he gave me a good lecture on some ideas that I had neglected to think about!

Now, in my own defense, Glenn did have one excellent question though that I had already though about and could answer with at least reasonable intelligence.

What am I measuring?Measuring Results

There is an old old saying; If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.

And any work on your website is no different, you need to know where you are going, and how you will measure that you are getting there.

I need to know what is being truly measured by the work I am doing. How do I know if I am actually improving anything? – because If you are measuring nothing – you never know what you have actually achieved.

In this case?

Since I was starting from zero, my measurements for this first stage of redeveloping our website were really modest.

In one of the earlier posts in this series,  I documented that we were invisible. If you used a search engine to look for products in our space, you  could not  find our website. The only way you found us was if you actually searched for some portion of our company name.

From that I could infer that this meant that people were using Google as a phone book – Google our name then click the link that leads to our contact information. Not the best for new business!

Two simple measurements

So my initial measurements?

Measurement #1 is simply that when people search via Google, Yahoo or Bing for information in the area in which we compete, that we begin to be found.

Measurement #2 When people do find us, it is not simply a one page click – Google our name – then click the contact page for the phone number. In other words I want to show that as people begin to find our website, that they are taking a few minutes to actually read up about our product, service etc.

It is still early – but both of these measurements are beginning to improve.

Photo Credit Darrren Hester via flickr

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That title sounds a little bit like some sort of spammy e-mail doesn’t it?

Like many things, if you are being literal? That title is completely accurate – but figuratively?

Well, let me back up.

This post is the next in my occasional series introduced in this post titled; IT In Marketing.

The short summary – this series documents a pretty typical smaller business that does not have a marketing staff, and the relatively simple changes that can be made that will improve the website part of your marketing efforts.

In one of the previous posts in this series,  I showed the steps of how I plotted a baseline, did some (free) website analytics and how I intended to tackle fixing our website content.

One key point that I previously mentioned was important to me;  I did not want some 2 plus year project trying to rewrite the whole web site.

I wanted to modify it one  page at a time. Write it, proof it, test it, then put it on the site. My goal being to refresh the content on one page per week. (the whole purpose of this series is that it is a part time thing right?)

I previously wrote that in the several months I was just monitoring traffic to the website – we got zero (none, nada, zip, zilch) visits to our site by people that found our website by the search engines – unless they were actually searching for part of our company name.

If you searched for: What is ABC Corp’s address

You found our website OK

If you searched for anything in our business space – well you didn’t find us.

Back to my weird title!

After just the second week, having only refreshed the data on only two web pages, I received three web site visitors that found us via the content we have – rather than just our company name.

I was able to tell our management team; ‘hey we got three!

When a co-worker reminded us that ‘three’ was 300% better than Zero!

You can get updates to this blog by clicking the RSS icon on the Home Page!

Words Are Not Enough

This is the next post in my intermittent series on doing more with less; having existing staff (in my case an IT Manager) help out in improving marketing, specifically starting with Web Site optimization. It also has come faster than I intended (the previous one was just last week)

First post is here .

But first, I want to tell you a story….

Our Story

A number of years ago we contracted out a web site re-design, then there were some some meetings with a marketing pro who then took our ideas and put some words on all of our newly redesigned web pages.

But I didn’t like them; they were only words.

What do I mean by only words?

Sure, we use words to explain concepts, or to describe things. But words can also be powerful containers that express more than the sum of their letters.

Chip & Dan Heath in their seminal text; Made To Stick demonstrated the concept that single words, phrases, or sentences can be triggers that expand to full volumes of concepts, emotions and understanding.

As an example, there are probably millions of books, texts, articles, images and information about a large United States based organization. I could use words to describe (which would be a  lengthy process ) this organization to you.

Or I can just say; NASA

Depending on your region or age, the simple term NASA will paint a picture of Apollo, Armstrong, Challenger, Atlantis, Voyageur and more. Entire volumes of your awareness are linked to those four simple letters (and heck it is only an acronym!)

In Your Business?

You probably have the same.

Sure, your B2B widget has some great features and specifications, but perhaps your experience has shown you that have successfully sold your Widgets to engineering teams at companies because one simple thing about it that removes a major hot button for the engineers. (ie maybe the one part can replace two)

That hot button – that is Ah-Ha! moment, those words just told your prospects; hey – these folks understand my issues!

The SMB Takeaway

Keep your fingers on the pulse of your web site content

You may outsource some of the work, but keep looking for those words or phrases that resonate, that explode into understanding.

Because those words, are more than words.

Photo Credit Feuillu via flickr

I know! It has been a while since the last post in this IT in Marketing series. I promise, there is a reason!https://i2.wp.com/farm4.static.flickr.com/3591/3668669816_a515b4c153.jpg

To Recap

If you are new here, or the wonders of search brought you here, this series chronicles your friendly neighborhood technology manager helping on the marketing side. I introduced it in this post titled; IT, In Marketing? The primary objective being to demonstrate that smaller business can improve their marketing, specifically web marketing without spending billions.

The first few posts (through the above link) demonstrated that our web site scored ,,,,, well it sucked. 29th percentile. If memory serves me correctly that would be a failing grade on any examination that I know of.

The Next Step: Baseline

First question: Did anybody actually visit our web site? How did they find it? Which pages did they look at?

Yes, basic – but key questions. And? Well, I needed answers to them.

Analytics

Web analytics is simply tools that let you track, measure and monitor your web site to answer questions like that. The goal is to start to get an idea of how people actually access, find, and move around your web site, if they found you on a search, it will show what words they were searching for.

There are many tools that can do this, for my needs I used Google’s free Google Analytics tool.

To Start

First step: I signed us up for a Google Analytics account which took only minutes. Google then generates a couple of lines of Web Page code, this is important as you need to add it to your web pages.

I was able to do it myself, but you may require your web site contractor to do it. Note! don’t have your contractor create the account, that is your information, it will be your data, for your web site, you own it!

Once I had this little bit of web code added to the web site, The Google Analytics application can begin to give me data on who, when and how people were finding our web site.

Next? For about three months I made no changes to the web site. Nothing at all! All I did was check out the reports on a weekly basis.

It wasn’t very nice.

First, we were not getting very many visitors to our web site. The absolute number of people is not too important to me, we are a  niche market B2B company, we don’t need huge amounts of people visiting our web site, but we do need the right ones.

Second, I also found that the only time that people found our web site by a search engine, was, well,,, if they were searching for us using some variation of our company name!

In other words, the tools we supply for our market were not being found at all! Not good.

We Were Invisible!

We have a great solution for a niche market, why were we not being found? That was my next question.

I knew that we had not modified any content on the web site in several years, and I already knew that was bad. The search engines like fresh material once in a while, if nothing ever changes they start to consider your web site pretty much dead.

So  my next task was to start rewriting and improving the content on  some of our Web pages.

I planned to do this rewrite one page at a time. I had no intention of trying to write the whole site for a year leaving that old content there. The old some day is not in the calendar effect. I wanted some new content each week or so.

The New Beginning

Just because you know what you do, don’t assume that others use the same words, phrases, or terms to describe it! It sounds simple enough, but if you plaster Car Repairs all over your web site but people tend to search for Automotive Repair, you get the idea, you won’t be there when they come looking.

Again, there are many online tools to help with this concept, and again via their Adwords tools, Google has a free one called the Google keyword tool.

What does this mean?

Quite simply, using my example of car above, the tool tells you common search terms that reference cars. So you could see that automotive is another word that people use.

As an example from our web site, the  keyword tool showed me that one common search term people were using was the name of our type of solution with the word ‘e-mail’ included .  Guess what – we don’t mention e-mail anywhere on our web site. So we won’t be found in that search.

So you know I have ideas on what I have to work on…….

Update! After I had written the draft of this, but before I published it, a great post on some of the power Google (and other analytics tools) can provide you with is here: Finding real answers with analytics (Part 1) on the Marketing What’s New Blog.

Photo Credit David Blackwell via flickr

Do you have a front line workhorse toiling away in your organization? Most of us do.

Whatever their title, or wherever they may be in the organizational chart, that he or she is the go to person in many businesses.

Think of that experience! Think of all the details they know about what really happens in your organization!

And now he or she is leaving.

This scenario is happening right now in a friends organization. In this case, that go to person was in customer service, and now she is retiring.

Being the face of that businesses customer service department, it may not have been daily, but frequently she bore the brunt of dissatisfied customers.

And Technology?

I know, you are asking where am I going with this!

But I see two things that many small to medium businesses often overlook when it comes to their customer service teams.

First, Looking Outside Your Walls

Your customer service teams have to deal with dissatisfied customers, that is a given; But what did you do to reduce that dissatisfaction?

We already know that no matter how we wish for perfect customer satisfaction, all day, every day, that is probably an unreasonable expectation. There will always be someone who is dissatisfied. Customers can be dissatisfied because the product or service did not truly meet their needs.

And finally, the biggies; dissatisfaction can occur if customers are not aware of, or don’t know about certain constraints with your product or service, or because they could not understand something.

As an example, consider that customers who purchased high definition television sets report being dissatisfied because they were not aware that to get the full benefit, they have to have high definition compatible services and devices from their regional cable or satellite television provider.

So during the 20 year tenure of your go to customer service individual, have you tracked the issues that they have been dealing with? Are there common refrains that you could have avoided by placing frequently asked questions on your web site?

Then, Inside your walls

Are you collecting information to learn?

During those 20 years of customer service calls, did you actively document them?

Did you look for broad themes that could drive improvements to your product or service? If you received the same complaint multiple times, don’t you think there might be something to learn from?

There is an old saying.

If one man calls you a horses ass. Ignore him.

If two men call you a horses ass. Think about it.

If three men call you a horses ass. Buy yourself a saddle.

Are You Learning?

Photo credit neoporcupine via flickr

A post titled; Why Doesn’t My Web Developer Call Me Back? at Smallbiztrends

The post basically states that if you are a small business and hiring solopreneur Web Development firms, good luck in getting any future service from that vendor.

You know, what we can cynically call a tail light warranty. (As long as you can see my tail lights, it is under warranty!)

The argument in that post being that while building a new web site for you can be profitable for your vendor, doing the minor content changes afterward won’t be profitable enough for them to be worth the effort.

That is wrong from both sides of the client – vendor relationship

If you are a solopreneur doing Web Design work, use a content management system (CMS) or easy template. Make it part of your sales pitch that your customer can do their own minor content changes. If your customer still prefers you to do it, you have a fast and profitable way to do it your self.

If you are hiring?

For SMB’s that hire Web Design firms, if you think that the money you paid to create the web site entitles you to free upgrades every three weeks, screw your head on right.

If you recently had the brakes done on your car, do you feel that your relationship entitles you to have them do all other maintenance for the life of your car??

Umm, no

First, don’t expect free maintenance. Negotiate a reasonable fee if you want the developer to make those changes. This fee can be different if you supply the content yourself, versus if you expect your contractor  to actually create it.

Second, your contract with your development firm should include a method where you can make basic content changes yourself. Are you having a sale this month on your widgets or services? Why do you need some one else to update that content for you? there should be a template or content management system that basically says: type it here, click there and it is done!

Then the only time you would need your contractor is for structural changes to the site.

If you cannot change one tiny piece of content on your web site, your developer has failed, and you fail too.

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With due apologies to Arthur Laurents and Leonard Bernstein!

When designing (or doing a re-design) of your Web Site, What story are you trying to tell? Your Web Site Story!

Now ask yourself; Is your Web Site telling that same story? Or is it telling something different?

Is the purpose of your web site to show off that you are the best multimedia developer in the world?

Or is it trying to provide information that presents your product or service in a way that encourages someone to contact you with a purchase order?

Because, as Marketing expert Seth Godin points out, that distinction is critical;

Do you want the people visiting this site to notice it?

For everyone else, it’s no. The purpose of the site is to tell a story or to generate some sort of action. And if the user notices the site, not the story, you’ve lost

The SMB Takeaway

Like most methods of communication, your web site must support your story.  And just as yelling at somebody with a huge smile on your face would provide your listener with a disconnect from the verbal language and the body language.

It is the same with your web site. If you are presenting a serious message, and your web site is all dancing dots and flashy gizmo’s. You are leaving your customers with that same disconnect.

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Photo Credit Wikipedia